woman experiences broken heart syndrome

Can Being Heartbroken Truly Break Your Heart?

By Nicholette Leanza, LPCC-S

What is stronger than the human heart which shatters over and over and still lives. – Rupi Kaur

Most of us know how miserable a broken heart can feel. A crushing breakup or devastating loss of a loved one can leave us feeling deeply hurt. That heartache occurs not just metaphorically but also medically. There is an actual name for this phenomenon, and experts call this “broken heart syndrome.”

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What is Broken Heart Syndrome?

According to the American Heart Association, broken heart syndrome (also known as stress-induced cardiomyopathy) mimics the symptoms of a heart attack and occurs in response to extreme physical or emotional distress.

Individuals affected by broken heart syndrome may feel like they are having a heart attack because they experience shortness of breath and intense chest pains. However, they will sometimes have no previous history of heart disease or blocked coronary arteries, which are generally the culprits behind heart attacks.

How Do Emotions Hurt the Heart?

Experts believe that a person’s reaction to stressful emotional events causes a release of stress hormones that temporarily reduce the heart’s ability to pump effectively. According to the American Heart Association, “a part of your heart temporarily enlarges and doesn’t pump well, while the rest of your heart functions normally or with even more forceful contractions.”

The impact of the stress hormones seems to cause the heart to malfunction and this can help us understand how a person’s reaction to a stressful event can manifest in their physical body. This ultimately reinforces the fact that our minds and bodies are truly interconnected.

How to Heal a Broken Heart

Stress-induced cardiomyopathy is often treated with medications to lower blood pressure and slow the heart rate. Mental health treatment is also recommended to help the person process and navigate the stressful event.

The intense sorrow that comes with a broken heart can leave a person feeling so shattered that it can quite literally malfunction their heart. Healing from such devastating pain, both emotionally and physically, takes time – it’s a process. Something that can also lead to a renewed strength of spirit. Nurture your heart so that its every beat keeps you moving forward.

“Pain makes you stronger. Fear makes you braver. Heartbreak makes you wiser.” ~Unknown

Heartbroken?
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